Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is set to face a grilling by MPs on Wednesday night, as she and South African Post Office (SAPO) CEO have to present a plan for the distribution of social grants.
According to Business Day, on Tuesday, Dlamini and Barnes appeared before a joint sitting of Parliament's portfolio committee on social development and the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) to give an update on the distribution of grants. Following a court ruling that the contract was illegal, the South African Social Services Association (Sassa) has six months left to phase out the current grants distributor, CPS Net1, and phase in a new provider, the SAPO.
On Monday, Dlamini reportedly held a press conference in East London where she said that the Post Office did not have the capacity to distribute social grants, and so an open tender would be issued. But Barnes disputed this on Tuesday.
Barnes and Dlamini were reportedly instructed to cancel their flights home and stay in Cape Town to hash out a plan for the distribution of grants, to be presented on Wednesday night.
Daily Maverick reported that in July, former Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza had sent a letter to Barnes agreeing to appoint the Post Office as a "service aggregator to pay social grants on a Build Operate and Transfer model over a period not exceeding five years."
Barnes reportedly told the committee on Tuesday that the CSIR was appointed to conduct due diligence on the Post Office to determine its capabilities, and the Post Office presented its proposals on September 12.
Since then, all attempts by the Post Office to access the final report have been ignored, Barnes reportedly said.
Dlamini accused MPs who did not believe her side of the story of patriarchy. She reportedly told journalists: "The most important thing I saw today [Tuesday] is issues of patriarchy, and who people believe when there are discussions.
"Look at the responses, the difference between social development responses and other responses. You'll see what is at play," she reportedly said, according to News24.
Barnes reportedly told journalists: "If everyone goes in there with an open mind, I think common sense will prevail.
"But if there are procedural issues or firm positions beyond which they won't go, of course we won't do a deal."